FDA Warns Pfizer Over Painkiller Ads

Advertisements for the arthritis drug Celebrex were misleading and unsubstantiated, overstating the pain reliever's benefits and understating the risks, the government said Wednesday. The Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) asked for an immediate halt to all ads for Celebrex, which Pfizer Inc. did last month in advance of the agency's letter. A study in December found high doses of Celebrex were associated with an increased risk of heart attack. The letter, sent Monday and released Wednesday, details the misleading and unsubstantiated claims in ads for Celebrex and a related drug, Bextra, that appeared on television, in print, on TV infomercials and in direct-mail brochures. The government said the claims represent serious violations of federal law. New York-based Pfizer spent more than $70 million advertising best-selling Celebrex to U.S. consumers in the first nine months of last year. It has run minimal consumer ads promoting Bextra.

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